'Just say no!' has for several decades been the mantra of the 'establishment' in their well-meaning attempt to discourage drug use in the younger generation.
Presented as the definitive statement on the subject by those in positions of authority its message is clear and unequivocal.
'Drugs are bad. Why? Because we say so.'
If only life was that simple and clear-cut then we could solve all of our social problems in a flash.
One of those young and impressionable minds who were subjected to drug education at school was James W Jesso. Initially he accepted the rejection of drugs by his elders on face value but, as a maturing teen with a natural tendency to ask questions and challenge authority, he soon found that the simple outright and blanket rejection of psychedelic substances was not as clear cut as it first seems.
In his book Decomposing the Shadow - which we have reviewed here, Jesso reveals his destructive use of drugs and the problems that it brought him. It seems at first hand that his ignoring of the warnings about drugs was a calamitous decision on his part - that was until he discovered that drugs, when the correct ones are applied in the right way, can actually be used as a solution to many psychological problems.
As a direct follow-up to his widely acclaimed book Decomposing the Shadow Jesso responds to the questions presented by his readership by describing three different accounts of his personal experiences using psilocybin, or magic mushrooms.
Three True Accounts
In his book The True Light of Darkness Jesso explains how 'Each story takes place at different points of development within my own practice, and they progress with increasing darkness and complexity.'
The first of his stories takes place a year before the release of Decomposing the Shadow and describes an account of a mushroom experience with two friends.
The second occurs in the winter of 2012 and just prior to the winter equinox. It is a tale that describes his attempt by himself and a friend to 'face personal malaise and sadness.'
The final story charts the author's attempts to confront one of his most intense bouts of depression by using a high dosage of pslocybin whilst locked away in an isolation tank.
In his summing up Jesso summarises his relationship with psilocybin as being instrumental in teaching him more about himself than he would otherwise be aware of - and at much deeper levels of his psyche.
Jesso feels that by sharing his experiences with others he can 'offer advice and suggestions on wielding psychedelics with more effectiveness and confidence.'
In other words he shows how the outright rejection of any drug - but specifically those that have been traditionally used within a Shamanic and ritualised setting, simply avoids the fact that behind them can be found a powerful therapeutic use.
Our Review of The True Light Of Darkness by James W. Jesso
It is not appropriate for me comment upon the the author's accounts of his mushroom use here for they are clearly personal and set within a context. Neither is it fitting for me to either criticise or endorse his used of banned psychedelics. Once again these are personal choices.
However the simple fact is that even the most well-meaning 'official' advice on drug use will be ignored by psychonauts of every color - and for one very good reason which is that few authorities provide the necessary levels of accurate information that can help individuals understand the implications of their actions.
This is where this book becomes such a worthy addition to the debate for it clearly offers a perspective on psilocybin in particular which does not brush over the fact that it is not always such a great high and that it can, on occasions, initiate a dark and dangerous experience.
However, as Jesso demonstrates so clearly in three simple accounts, for those who are already acclimatised to such a deep state of consciousness either through emotional disfunction, anxiety, depression etc., or who are able to traverse the inner levels of their own psyche without any sense of fear and trepidation then this drug can be of tremendous benefit.
In this regard the title of Jesso"s book accurately summarises a psychedelic process that, when properly initiated, can make the journey both spiritually and psychologically worthwhile....and they don't tell you that at school!
Highly recommended for those who enjoy a balanced debate.